Why Are You Interested In Seashells?

When I began writing this blog about seashells I did so hoping to sell paper products containing my seashell photography, like the card below. I lived in New Hampshire at the time, which is funny because my shells had been collected when I lived in Florida. But my Zazzle business, and especially my seashell and beach-related store, needed promoting and I figured a blog was the way to go. What I discovered right away was that my blog was turning into something else.

In the beginning I wanted to promote my store.

The blog quickly became a learning experience.

People reading my blog wanted information about seashells. At the time I knew very little about the shells I had randomly collected while living in Florida. Now, it was time to learn. For some reason I had never thought much about how those empty shells got there or where they came from. The mollusks, or sea snails, which made them were amazing creatures. I wanted to share what I learned with others who wanted to know.

Big horse conch seashells found locally
Two horse conch shells and Skittle the cat

A move back south made writing easier.

The first years of writing were spent in the North, far from tropical beaches, but now that I am once again in Florida, writing has become easier. It’s always better when you have access to the subject. With the purchase of our boat, I have even better access to remote spots where I may come across fun nature photos to share. And I have my camera with me in the form of the iPhone now too.

shells in the sand
The wind was covering, or maybe uncovering, shells along the beach

Discovering local species is most exciting.

Starfish and sand dollars were my first focus because it was easy to find information about them, and I knew what they were called! It’s been a journey, and I’ve made mistakes along the way, but my writing has improved and so has my knowledge of marine snails and the homes they carry on their backs.

Large living tulip shell with Mollusk inside, found in the backwaters of the Indian River in New Smyrna Beach / Edgewater area
My guesstimate at the size of this living tulip is 7 inches in length. It’s a biggie!

Getting out in the Florida wilderness.

Now I would say that I am interested in shells because their lives fascinate me. Sizes, shapes and colors of seashells vary because of the snail which made them. I am lucky enough to get to see those living creatures now and then and share photos here on my blog. Usually I have far too many photos to deal with and not enough time to write, but it’s fun. I hope my readers can learn something which makes them appreciate the beauty of shells.

Gathering Photos to Compare Seashells That Look Similar

It’s tough to write a seashell blog without photos of seashells.  The best way to have those photos is to take them myself.  This was impossible for me to do when I lived in New Hampshire, where I lived when I began this blog.  Well, not totally impossible.  I had a seashell collection from my 27 years of living in Florida, and I would photograph those shells for this blog.

I could not go out and collect or photograph new finds. I never went to the beach in the eleven years I lived in the North. In summer, beaches in the north are crowded and the water is cold. Parking is a pain, and there are really not many cool shells to find anyway.

When I first began really looking at shells and paying attention to the way they were made, I sometimes had a difficult time telling certain types apart. I had a tiny Lightning Whelk for a long time before I knew what it was. When identifying seashells, we need some good photos to go by. That is one thing I try to provide here on my blog, but I still get confused, or forget the names of shells.

I rely on my seashell books a lot.

Now I can go out and collect and photograph shells. The beaches are close by and we go out fishing and boating and find shells in the backwaters as well.

Seashells That Look Similar Can Have Different Names

Often a shell is easy to identify right away. The Arks are so common around here that I see them everywhere.  You can find these along the beach, in the backwater, at the Inlet, and jetty.  They are heavy-duty shells, which manage to survive rough wave action.

Ark shells

When I collect ark shells I may think they are all the same, but in reality arks come with a variety of names, and only tiny differences separate them.   I need to try and figure out which ones I have.  They also look like cockle shells.

This is true for other shells as well. The scallops, tulips, slipper snails and certain clams come to mind. Each variety has a sub-variety, so I need to be able to tell them apart. In some cases, certain shells may be more rare than others.

You can be general and say, “I found a scallop shell.”, or be specific and say, “I found a Lion’s paw!”

Some Shells Are Easy to Identify

And then there are some shells that are not confusing at all. They have their own specific shape and / or coloring and I will know right away what it is.

The Jacknkife clam comes to mind and the Stout tagelus. Both are long shells. The Jackknife is long, like a big fingernail. That’s what my kids and I used to call them. The Tagelus is also long, but wider.

On the West coast of Florida, the spotted Junonia certainly stands out.

I found this Turkey Wing shell on the west coast. With it’s brown stripes and odd shape, is another type of shell that is easy to identify.

Turkey wing shells
Turkey Wing, my photo

But more on that later. For now I want to get started writing pages to help identify shells that look the same but are really not. I’m doing this to help myself as much as anyone.

I’ve been collecting lots of my own photos to do this, so lets get started!


Identifying Pieces of Seashells Found on the Beach

Often I will pick up interesting pieces of seashells while beach-combing.  I’m getting better at identifying the pieces.  The more variety of shells I collect, the easier it becomes.  If the bit of shell baffles me at the seashore, I search it out in my favorite seashell book, or look through my seashell collection.

Seashells break for many reasons and some shells are more fragile than others.  The Channeled duck clam is thin and most of them are broken on top.  (It’s the white shell in the left-hand photo below.)

Usually it’s the surf and wave action that tumbles the shell until it breaks.  Birds can be the culprits too.  Whatever the reason, it can challenge the mind to picture bits as whole shells.  Usually I am sorry I missed seeing it as a whole, beautiful specimen.

Screen Shot 2017-04-30 at 12.19.10 PM

While visiting Ponce Inlet, I brought home this large, smooth, brown bit of shell, and a smaller piece like it.  I wondered what it could have been originally. Continue reading “Identifying Pieces of Seashells Found on the Beach”

%d bloggers like this: